March 29, 1996 in Nation/World

Ira Deals Out Savage Punishment Six Men Tie Up Alleged Crook, Drive Spikes In His Arms, Legs

Associated Press
 

In an attack police blame on the IRA, six men bundled Martin Doherty into the back yard of a house, tied and gagged him, then pounded steel stakes into his arms and legs.

Doherty, 18, was in serious condition Thursday at City Hospital, apparently a victim of the Irish Republican Army’s practice of meting out “punishment attacks” to intimidate opponents and criminals.

The IRA, which seeks the end of British rule, relies on such attacks to maintain its neighborhood power bases and undermine the police. ProBritish Protestant paramilitaries also engage in these vigilante actions.

“I think it’s incredible that anyone could be so savage. I use the word ‘savage’ knowingly,” said Dr. James Calderwood, a surgeon who has patched up many victims of punishment beatings by the IRA and other paramilitary groups.

Calderwood said Doherty would take months to recover, partly because he didn’t have a good leg to stand on, nor a good arm to prop a crutch against.

Some residents of Turf Lodge, a gray warren of public housing, accused the victim of involvement in drugs and other crime. No one would give their name.

“They crucified that boy, but he’s no saint I can assure you,” said a neighbor, who has a son in prison for IRA offenses.

“Sure what do you expect, what can you do about it anyway? They’re a law unto themselves, always have been,” said an old man.

His wife said she had seen that the attackers were not masked - but there was no question of going to the police with evidence.

“You’d never say a word to the ‘peelers,”’ she said, suggesting that the IRA “would just make your life hell if you did.”

Alex Maskey, a leading member of Sinn Fein, the party allied to the IRA, said the men who beat spikes into Martin Doherty were responding to a “vacuum in policing.”

© Copyright 1996 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email